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Sterling seeks millions from feds

Sat., June 23, 2007, midnight

A trial to determine if the United States owes Sterling Financial Corp. perhaps more than $90 million begins 9:30 a.m. Monday in the historic courtroom on the third floor of the U.S. Post Office Building in downtown Spokane.

It is a trial 16 years in the making and one that recalls the financial debacle of failing thrifts and the federal government’s efforts to lessen the hit to taxpayers. The government turned to companies such as Sterling to assist in the bailout by asking them to absorb derelict institutions.

When Congress passed legislation later that affected how Sterling could carry the liabilities of taking over three of those failing thrifts on its books, Sterling sued.

Now, after years of legal wrangling, several judges and appealed rulings, the case will be heard in Spokane in front of U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler.

In that 16-year span, Sterling has grown from a financial institution with $691 million in assets to a Northwest success story with more than $9.8 billion in assets.

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